“Spy balloon” from China: New details after salvaging the debris

The United States is currently recovering the debris from the suspected “spy balloon” from China. First information becomes public.

After the alleged Chinese “observation balloon” was shot down by the US military over the Atlantic, details of the flying object have become known. The balloon was about 200 feet tall and believed to have weighed as much as a small airliner, US Northern Command commander Glen VanHerck said on Monday.

It was also only shot above the water because it was feared that glass from solar panels or potentially dangerous material, for example from batteries, could have fallen down. It was also expected that explosives would detonate and the balloon could have been destroyed.

Debris salvage in progress

The debris is currently being salvaged off the coast of South Carolina. They are trying to “recover as much of the Chinese high-altitude balloon as possible, primarily for the safety of people in the region, but also to evaluate it and use it in any way we can,” VanHerck said.

The naval survey ship Pathfinder used, among other things, sonar technology to measure the debris field. The entire field has an approximate size of 1,500 by 1,500 meters. Due to the swell, the work under water was initially made more difficult. The operation takes place at a depth of around 15 meters, said VanHerck on Monday.

When asked about plans to return the recovered material to China, National Security Council communications director John Kirby said: “I am not aware of any such intention or any plans to return it.”

Contrails can be seen next to the balloon from China before it was launched.
Contrails can be seen in the sky next to the Chinese balloon: it has now been shot down and the debris is now being recovered. (Source: Brian Branch)

Chinese balloon also over Colombia

The balloon affair with China is spreading. After the spectacular launch of a suspected Chinese “spy balloon” off the US coast, the State Department in Beijing admitted that another balloon discovered over Colombia also came from China.

Similar to the balloon incident over the United States, Beijing foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said through the Wetter and limited control options, he had inadvertently entered the airspace of Latin American countries during a “flight attempt”. China informed the countries.

China had previously intensified its criticism of the US for launching the balloon. In protest, the State Department summoned the chargé d’affaires of the US embassy in Beijing. Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said at Sunday’s meeting that the US has made efforts and progress on both sides to stabilize ties since China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden met in November, the foreign ministry said , “seriously impaired and damaged”.

Beijing: We reserve the right to respond as necessary

The penetration of the balloon was only an “accident” that happened due to “force majeure”. “The facts are clear and cannot be twisted.” Despite this, the US had “played deaf” and insisted on “abusing force against a civilian airship that was about to leave US airspace”. It was an “obvious overreaction” and violated “the spirit of international law and international norms”. The Chinese government reserves the right to respond as necessary.

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Xi and Biden at the G20 summit in Bali in November: China accuses the US of an “obvious overreaction”. (Quelle: IMAGO/Adam Schultz/White House)

The United States shot down the balloon, which had been flying over the United States for days, with a rocket on Sunday off the Atlantic coast of South Carolina. China was accused of using the balloon to spy on important military installations. The government in Beijing, on the other hand, spoke of a civilian research balloon that had drifted far off course due to the westerly wind drift and insufficient navigation. The same justification has now been adopted for the balloon over Latin America.

Several US Republicans sharply criticized Biden’s actions after he ordered the balloon to be shot down as soon as there was no danger on the day the balloon was discovered. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina wrote on Twitter: “Now that this embarrassing episode is over we need answers from the Biden administration about the decision-making process. Communist China has been allowed to violate American sovereignty unhindered for days. We must wait for future provocations and abuses China’s better prepared.” On February 15, the Senate is to be briefed in a secret session.


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